How much will the collaboration cost my business?
The cost of collaborating with academia can range anywhere from a short student project right through to a more substantial investment in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). (See our funding page for a more comprehensive list of available funding.)
How long do the projects tend to last?
In terms of timescales to outcomes, collaborations can vary in length dependent on the project type. For example, projects can be relatively quick when accessing facilities for product testing and analysis. Projects going through the SFC Innovation Voucher Scheme are expected to be completed within a 3-month period while KTP projects can run for a number of years.
These work experience opportunities match students with businesses to undertake a defined project, either on a part-time or full-time basis. The cost of student projects can vary between being free-of-charge to out-of-town expenses to paying a wage.
In collaboration with the University of the West of Scotland, Envirodigital developed a carbon footprint widget for webcast events to capture data around the carbon emissions avoided by attending an event virtually. However, webcasting technologies advanced dramatically and the central idea of how the widget launched with online webcasts became redundant.
Envirodigital approached Interface to source the expertise necessary for further development of the idea within the changing technological landscape. Interface introduced Envirodigital to Edinburgh Napier University and a student placement project was developed, resulting in new company-owned IP and a demonstrable product, at no cost to Envirodigital.
Up to £5,000 of funding aimed at encouraging first-time partnerships between a company and a university or further education college. The company contributes an equal value in cash or in-kind (such as staff time, materials or equipment) or a combination of both.
“The Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher was an excellent support mechanism to develop the partnership with McCormack Innovation. With this funding, the University of Dundee was given the opportunity to undertake a feasibility study looking at the suitability of the products developed by the company and the possible commercial applications. With the obvious push for the removal of waste plastics from our environment, the materials being developed by McCormack Innovation have a huge potential both in medical and domestic applications and they are currently leading the way in developing a suite of disposable products.” Professor Robert Keatch, Engineering & Applied Sciences, University of Dundee
A KTP is part-funded by a grant. The business will need to contribute to the salary of the Associate who will work with your business, plus the cost of a supervisor who will oversee the scheme. The amount you will need to contribute depends on the scale and length of the project. It will also depend on the size of your company.
- small and medium-sized enterprises contribute around £35,000 per year, about one-third of the project costs
- large businesses contribute around £55,000 per year, or half of the project costs
A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Johnstons of Elgin and the University of Strathclyde carried out pioneering research into innovative techniques and technologies for objectively measuring traditionally subjective finish attributes of its woven cashmere pieces.
As a result of the KTP brokered by Interface, Johnstons went on to partner with a nationally recognised leader in measurement through A4I (Analysis for Innovators) to design and develop a system for objective and quantitative assessment of its product finish. The system developed will not only help Johnstons to drive down its costs associated with reworks and remakes, but it will also verify the potential for scaling up to 100% inspection of product moving at speed through Johnstons manufacturing line.
A unique solution to funding the cost of collaborating is illustrated by the project between Robop Ltd and the University of St Andrews.
Robop Ltd was founded in 2001 to develop a robotic bird that looked and acted like a Peregrine Falcon, with the aim of deterring seagulls, pigeons, and other vermin-like birds. Whilst Robop was a commercial success, there were certain situations in which the mechanical bird did not function effectively.
Facilitated by Interface, Robop embarked on a scientific collaboration with the University of St Andrews to help in the development of new variants of the Robop concept, ultimately improving the effectiveness of the product. The company entered into a collaboration agreement, signed in 2009, with the University of St Andrews in which the company pays the University royalties on the sales of the improved Robop in return for their consultancy services. These royalties are in lieu of an up-front payment for services received.
The improved technology has been employed by an ever-growing blue-chip customer base and has, so far, been exported to 15 different countries – a win for both the company in increased sales, and the University, who receives royalties on the sales.